Florida Water Environmental Student Chapter

Cape Florida

Each semester, UM FWEA organizes several field trips. In the past, we have gone to Key West, Everglades National Park, and John C. Pennekamp State Park. This year (1996), we went to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area to do volunteer exotic vegetation removal. In addition, we also sponsored two other field trip events including a tour of the City of Hollywood Water Treatment Facility and a tour of the Miami International Airport remediation project. For next semester, we are planning to organize a trip to Key West to attend a conference entitled, "Enhancement of Wastewater Sludge Treatment by Ionizing Radiation." We are also looking into scheduling trips to the Biscayne National Park or the Nature Conservancy Area in addition to visiting utilities in Dade and Broward County. These trips are excellent opportunities for students and faculty to get to know each other and learn about the environment. And they are also great fun, just take a look at pictures from our Cape Florida field trip.

Walter and Doug pulling Burma Reeds.
The entire group on the catamarans.
The aggressors with their victims!
Scenic shot.
Captain Meeroff taking a well-deserved break.
I am Douglas MacNeal, and this is my story:
Trip report for 11/16/96

0830: Our platoon of weekend warriors had gathered outside those barracks we called home. There were eight of us total. Those seven on active duty and the eighth was our fearless commander. There was fire in his eyes and we knew that, in his heart, he wanted to join us, but alas, an old war injury kept him out of it. By 0845 we were on our way to the battle zone. That no-mans land called Cape Florida state park. Our mission was to seek and destroy any transient life (exotic plants).

Our mission was not easy, and we all knew it. It had taken a massive offensive by mother nature, in the form of Hurricane Andrew, to even get this war started. None of us had any illusions about what we were doing that morning. There would be no glory, no ticker-tape parades, no not for us. There was even the ping us with some old war stories of his own. It lifted the mood a little.

We arrived, and, after a short mission briefing, we were sent out into the wilds, armed with nothing but a few shovels, our wits, and a really heavy water jug. Our mobility was our advantage, our motivation was displaced natives everywhere. The wind was really whipping up when our targets came into view. Our most brutal enemy, the Burma reed stood defiant. Our veterans, Walter and Stacy, started the offensive, then we all joined in. First we removed some of those standing alone. Then, with the rush of battle in our brains, Captain Meeroff and myself made a decisive move. We began to attack the largest clump of it we saw. Soon, the others joined us. The reeds were whispering in the wind, taunting us. But their taunting turned to begging as huge knots of them were pulled out.

Oh, they gave us some trouble, there was a particularly large one sitting on the border of their territory. He thought the tree next to him would keep him safe. But with a little coaxing from Captain Meeroff and me, all that was left of him was a small depression in the sandy ground and another chalk mark on our massive kill list. And a massive kill list it was. All in all, we had removed 156 Burma Reeds, 9 Papaya Trees, and 2 Castor Beans. There was even some talk of using a military field defoliant, but we decided that Agent Orange, being a rather indiscriminate herbicide, as well as a nasty carcinogen, would not be suitable for our work that day.

Well, our battle was over, and it was a stunning success. We had done more in those couple of hours than a certain group of "half-hearted" volunteers had done in twice the time with twice the man-power. We decided to celebrate with a victory feast next to those warm sandy beaches.

Unfortunately, the beaches were neither warm nor, at the moment, particularly sandy. The wind had kicked up some more and we were forced to eat in the gale. A tricky maneuver at best. We made out okay though, using our own drink bottles as weights against the windy onslaught. Finally we braved the covered beaches to enjoy all that mother nature had to offer that day which was a lot of wind and ocean. Finally, our battlefield surveyed, we took a final tour of the whole battle zone, learning some of the other offensives taking place, and then we returned home, to rest our weary bodies and to recoup our scattered minds.

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